Shout an amen for St. Paul

JanewayPaul Janeway wanted to be a minister but instead of preaching to the choir, he’s leading his own—a seven-piece, brass-driven, white Southern soul band that again proves it best not to judge a book by its dust jacket.

Close your eyes and listen. You hear a soulful, Alabama-bred voice akin to a sixties-era soul singer, a voice you recognize but can’t place. Take a peek and incongruity slaps you in the face. It’s like watching Beck, garbed like Jim Belushi’s Joliet Jake Elwood sans fedora, fronting a Stax Records recording session. If you have to, shut your eyes and keep listening. It’s worth it. I heard the band on the now-defunct Craig Ferguson show and, with the release of the new album Half the City, Eleven Magazine’s K.E. Luther (http://elevenmusicmag.com/feature/birth-of-a-new-phenomenon-st-paul-the-broken-bones/) had this to say about Janeway’s band, St. Paul and the Broken Bones:

On record, Paul Janeway sounds like a forgotten legend of the soul era, a smoother Charles Bradley or a sunnier Lee Fields. In reality, Janeway and his six-piece backing band, who perform as St. Paul & The Broken Bones, are rising stars in Alabama’s increasingly high-profile music scene. Earlier this year, they released their first full-length album, Half the City, to overwhelmingly positive reviews. By summer, they were selling out venues all across Europe and North America.

While the members of the band are young — with the possible exception of Al Gamble, a veteran keyboard player with more than fifty recordings under his belt — they produce some of the most authentic soul music since The Swampers created the Muscle Shoals Sound. At times, they play like they have memorized every guitar attack and horn chart from The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” to Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” — which is a distinct possibility. Not only did they grow up a few miles from where those records were cut, they are also adept students of music history.

 

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